Creature Comforts vs. Critical Engine Operation

There are two different systems cooling totally different things in your vehicle. They are

  1. The air conditioning system, and
  2. The cooling system

These two systems are commonly confused, so we’re here to share the difference.

And really, it’s the difference between creature comforts and optimal engine operation.

First up, the air conditioning system

This is the program that cools the human beings and the pets sitting on the seats and floor after a long play session down on Alki. You flip it on, direct the vents onto yourself & all of the passengers and you breathe a sigh of relief as the vented air cools you down.

Usually, on hot days (yes, even in West Seattle) it can’t get cold enough, fast enough, for everyone in the car.

This is also the system you use on hot days, when you’ve gone to the store and have a gallon of ice cream. You put the bags in the passenger side on the floor and turn on the vents to get the air conditioning blowing there too.

Then you have your cooling system

This is the system that cools your car. We’re talking about the engine, the radiator and many systems throughout your vehicle that need continual regulation and cooling.

If you have a cooling system problem it can be catastrophic.   If your air conditioning system isn’t cooling your body, you might not be very happy about it but you’re not going to melt, you will just have to roll the windows down.

If your coolant light comes on or your temperature gauge is at “hot”, please pull over and turn off your vehicle.  

If you continue to drive you could do a lot more damage than has already been done.  When in doubt, it’s always best to tow your vehicle to our shop than to risk driving and causing more damage.

You can always have your car towed or brought over to us here at Tom’s Automotive Service in West Seattle. Call to let us know you’re coming: (206) 937-1144.

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Our Reviews

Tom's Automotive Service
Reviewed from Google

4.2 out of 5 stars

Penny Winfield
Penny Winfield

5 out of 5 stars

posted 1 day ago

I started going to Tom's Automotive Service on the recommendation of a friend and I am so glad that I did! I found the staff to be professional, knowledgeable, friendly, courteous and accommodating. I stopped by to make an appointment, but needed to have oil added immediately which was done. I also had another problem which they handled promptly. Now they are helping me set up a schedule for servicing my car that should keep things running smoothly. I feel that my car is in good hands and I am very pleased.

Kyle Freemantle
Kyle Freemantle

5 out of 5 stars

posted 3 months ago

Took in my Mazda for a 20k mile tune-up and had the most transparent experience with a mechanic I've ever had. Easy to work with, friendly staff, all that good stuff. I have a car that has relatively uncommon oil (0W-20) and within an hour of me dropping it off for service they called me up and told me they'd have to go and get some and how it would affect the cost of repair. This wasn't a surprise to me, but they're the first place that's actually given me a heads up. In any case, good and timely service at a reasonable cost. Definitely give them a try if you need service in West Seattle.

Hannah Holmstrom
Hannah Holmstrom

5 out of 5 stars

posted 1 month ago

The crew at Tom's is extraordinary. They were incredibly helpful, and when my car couldn't be saved, Bryce took time out of his day to give me direction on where to go and what to do. They were overly generous giving me ample time to leave my car in their lot while I figured out what to do with it. I would recommend Tom's to everyone! Such great people!!!

Ryan Day
Ryan Day

5 out of 5 stars

posted 6 hours ago

Always great service . The staff is amazing . My wife and I have used them a few times since moving to West Seattle 11 years ago . The shuttle is always nice since we live in West Seattle.

Suky Hutton
Suky Hutton

5 out of 5 stars

posted 3 months ago

Everyone at Tom's is a pleasure to work with: they're good listeners and generous problem solvers. They're clear about the repair work they suggest, they offer a range of options when that's appropriate, and their prices are fair. They also try to get you in as quickly as possible, sometimes immediately. I remain a grateful customer after 30 years!